In search if the elusive 'moderate' Syrian rebel

Is there really such an animal as a "moderate" Syria rebel?  Not even the New York Times can answer that question:

President Obama’s new strategy for routing ISIS, the extremist Sunni group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, rests substantially and precariously on having rebels in Syria fight ISIS, even as they battle the forces of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The plan is full of hope and fraught with obstacles.

During the three-year-long Syrian civil war, Mr. Obama has been rightly reluctant to provide significant weapons and military assistance to the Syrian rebels. From the beginning, it was nearly impossible to determine the makeup and character of the rebel groups, of which there are about 1,500, according to James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence.

Groups identified by Western intelligence agencies as the moderate opposition — those that might support democracy and respect human rights — have been weak, divided and without coherent plans or sustained command structures capable of toppling the Assad regime. Today, those so-called moderates are even weaker and more divided; in some cases, their best fighters are hard-line Islamists.

In ruling out sending American combat troops into yet another Muslim country, Mr. Obama’s plan relies on these rebels to serve as ground forces to defend and seize territory after American airstrikes in Syria, for which he needs to seek congressional approval. But training and equipping them will be complicated and risky, and will take months, if not longer. ISIS, which the C.I.A. said Thursday has as many as 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria, is already well-equipped and has proved to be stunningly skillful at waging war and seizing territory in both Iraq and Syria.

Despite efforts by the United States and others to persuade the insurgent groups to unify under a common political and military command structure, there is still no shared leadership. In fact, these groups may be close to defeat in Aleppo, where they are fighting both the Assad forces and ISIS.

When the civil war in Syria began, we had the chance to arm those army units and commanders who had turned on President Assad and was assisting the small group of jihadists who had taken up arms against the Syrian government. This was as close to Islamic "moderates" that we were likely to get. and putting weapons in the hands of people who already knew how to use them, made sense.

But the president was far more concerned about the US being drawn into another Middle East conflict. Well, his inaction has drawn us into another war in the Middle East. How's that Syrian policy working out for ya, Barry?

And now? Our vetting procedures suck. We have trained individual fighters for ISIS, as well as fighters for al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda linked groups. And now we're going to vastly expand the numbers of rebel trainees? Good luck with that.

The civilian opposition groups are no help either. There are two of them and both feature majority Muslim Brotherhood delegates. The secular Syrians are even more divided among the civilian groups as they are in the military.

As in Libya, the probable scenario is that any arms will send to the Syrian rebels will be used in a post-Assad battlefield as Islamists fight to see who runs what's left of the country. You just hope they won't use those weapons on us or our interests.

Is there really such an animal as a "moderate" Syria rebel?  Not even the New York Times can answer that question:

President Obama’s new strategy for routing ISIS, the extremist Sunni group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, rests substantially and precariously on having rebels in Syria fight ISIS, even as they battle the forces of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The plan is full of hope and fraught with obstacles.

During the three-year-long Syrian civil war, Mr. Obama has been rightly reluctant to provide significant weapons and military assistance to the Syrian rebels. From the beginning, it was nearly impossible to determine the makeup and character of the rebel groups, of which there are about 1,500, according to James Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence.

Groups identified by Western intelligence agencies as the moderate opposition — those that might support democracy and respect human rights — have been weak, divided and without coherent plans or sustained command structures capable of toppling the Assad regime. Today, those so-called moderates are even weaker and more divided; in some cases, their best fighters are hard-line Islamists.

In ruling out sending American combat troops into yet another Muslim country, Mr. Obama’s plan relies on these rebels to serve as ground forces to defend and seize territory after American airstrikes in Syria, for which he needs to seek congressional approval. But training and equipping them will be complicated and risky, and will take months, if not longer. ISIS, which the C.I.A. said Thursday has as many as 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria, is already well-equipped and has proved to be stunningly skillful at waging war and seizing territory in both Iraq and Syria.

Despite efforts by the United States and others to persuade the insurgent groups to unify under a common political and military command structure, there is still no shared leadership. In fact, these groups may be close to defeat in Aleppo, where they are fighting both the Assad forces and ISIS.

When the civil war in Syria began, we had the chance to arm those army units and commanders who had turned on President Assad and was assisting the small group of jihadists who had taken up arms against the Syrian government. This was as close to Islamic "moderates" that we were likely to get. and putting weapons in the hands of people who already knew how to use them, made sense.

But the president was far more concerned about the US being drawn into another Middle East conflict. Well, his inaction has drawn us into another war in the Middle East. How's that Syrian policy working out for ya, Barry?

And now? Our vetting procedures suck. We have trained individual fighters for ISIS, as well as fighters for al-Nusra and other al-Qaeda linked groups. And now we're going to vastly expand the numbers of rebel trainees? Good luck with that.

The civilian opposition groups are no help either. There are two of them and both feature majority Muslim Brotherhood delegates. The secular Syrians are even more divided among the civilian groups as they are in the military.

As in Libya, the probable scenario is that any arms will send to the Syrian rebels will be used in a post-Assad battlefield as Islamists fight to see who runs what's left of the country. You just hope they won't use those weapons on us or our interests.